Liza Minnelli Hits Gest With Lawsuit

Singer accuses David Gest of theft, pattern of 'improper conduct'

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Liza Minnelli Hits Gest With Lawsuit

NOVEMBER 17--Branded a drunken husband beater by the creepy David Gest, Liza Minnelli has fired back at her estranged husband, claiming in a new lawsuit that he stole money from her, constantly berated the singer in public, and tried to can any Minnelli employee who questioned Gest's "business practices and ethics," The Smoking Gun has learned.

Charging that Gest engaged in a "wholesale pattern of improper conduct" that began shortly after their March 2002 marriage, Minnelli is seeking a minimum of $2 million, according to the below New York State Supreme Court complaint filed last Friday. The performer--described in the lawsuit as "a uniquely talented actress, singer, dancer and entertainer"--also wants a court-ordered accounting of Gest's financial records.

Before the couple wed, Gest and Minnelli entered into a verbal agreement calling for him to receive a 10 percent fee for managing the 57-year-old entertainer. Almost immediately, Minnelli's representatives began questioning Gest's business practices and asked the 50-year-old wheeler-dealer "for an accounting and access to all underlying book and records." That access, the lawsuit contends, "was denied" by Gest.

Minnelli alleges that Gest and his two companies "began to take monies for themselves" and that he "began refusing projects unless they included himself." Minnelli portrays Gest as a prima donna who "began holding himself out as the 'star.' He was abusive and demanding of third parties with whom he was dealing." Gest's conduct was so offensive, that "people in the entertainment industry began refusing to work with Minnelli" or participate in her projects "if Gest was involved."

According to Minnelli, she terminated all business arrangements with Gest on June 12, in the midst of the couple's stormy stay at London's Connaught Hotel. According to Gest, a vodka-fortified Liza tossed him such a beating on June 10 that he was reduced to covering his face and wailing, "Liza, stop it, stop it!" The couple announced their separation the following month. (11 pages)